PR takes time: How long have you been in business? If it’s been a while and this is your first attempt at PR, hang on because it will be an eventful journey. There are rarely any parts of the PR campaign that can happen overnight. Yes, we might pitch an outlet and they find interest the next day BUT there is more work to be done. We have to make sure you are prepped, update all of your materials, and continue pitching the other targeted outlets on our list. PR should indeed be an ongoing process and re-evaluated and measured quarterly for extremely short-term goals and every year for the larger, longer lead goals. Believe me we wish we could wake up and the world saw you as an awesome business just like we did.
We don’t have every reporter on speed dial: Believe it or not I do not know everyone. I chat with at least a dozen or so prospective clients a month and at least a handful ask about my infamous list of famous people, specific media outlets, and my social status. I am often tickled because I believe anyone who tells you they know everyone is being untruthful. I have a great list of PR colleagues in a good number of cities, I have access to an amazing list of media contacts, and I have a few thousand ‘friends’ between all of my social platforms. HOWEVER, what makes a PR firm or publicist really valuable is their ability to build non-existent relationships and continue to cultivate current relationships. Sometimes it takes a while (refer to #1) but that is what you should pay for. Remember it’s quality of how they build relationships vs quantity of people in their rolodex.
We are not magicians: I have been called magician a time or two, as have many of my colleagues, and while I have been known to pull a trick or two out of my hat I am NOT Harry Houdini or any other type of magician. There are some rare occasions when I make a 72 hour PR blitz seem effortless, which I have indeed done, but it is unrealistic to think that every amazing idea can happen at the last minute OR that I can miraculously have Oprah call to have you on one of her life classes. Again, refer to #1 and know that the magic happens strategically and with intention from you (the client) and ME (the PR company).
Spinning is for plates! I am naturally creative so the only thing spinning about me is my brain with lots of ideas. The PR profession, just as any other profession, has a code of ethics and personally I have a code of ethics/conduct. I will never find my sweet spot by lying for my clients. I can craft and frame (very PR-esque words) but I will not spin.
We do more than get you on television! In PR, how many times do we get the phone call that goes “can you get me on XYZ show?” That usually leads me to a series of questions about the company/organization, their current efforts, their expectations, and some of their additional goals. What we usually conclude is that they need far more than media outreach. While the media is a great addition to your plan you have to also ask yourself “if the media goes searching for me online will they find any information?” or “I am seeking additional visibility and want more people in my store but is my customer service up to par?” These along with a dozen other questions should be a part of your thinking strategy as you are looking to include PR. Remember to keep your end expectation in mind and then fill in the gaps with the best plan to meet that need.
PR is not free, cheap, or inexpensive. I am always amazed at how PR is defined in some circles as free advertisement when in fact advertisement is advertisement and PR is not! A couple of myth busting facts: 1) a PR plan can be costly for your company. You have to consider your needs, the hours, and over what course of time you will need a firm or consultant (I recommend at least 6 months to a year). 2) Every PR task, even ‘free’ sites like Facebook has a fee association. Whether you hire us or a full time staff member you have to associate a dollar amount to their time. 3) There are no short cuts. Hiring the wrong person for your company because they are discounted, free, or cheap can be another costly expense for your company. Take your time to hire the correct person to save time and money.
Every PR firm is not the same. Believe it or not every PR agency, consultant, or freelancer is not the same. That doesn’t mean that they do not all offer amazing service with more importantly great results but their client approach, business culture, and strategies should fit your needs. Take some time to ‘date’ the firm you are considering to see if they understand your business. Also, ensure that you like and appreciate working with them. Bottom line: understand that like snow flakes no 2 PR firms are alike!
Bigger is not always better! Looking to hire a PR firm? Reconsider your needs and how the firm best fits with you rather than their company or roster size. Also, for some reason there is an untrue, yet perceived philosophy that business is better in NY, CHI, or LA. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a larger firm or a firm in a larger city it is important to consider the alternatives like a boutique agency, consultant, or freelancer. What do you get with a smaller agency? More individualized attention; you have 1-2 main contacts and the approval process does not take an act of congress and your account exec is more likely to have the answers to your questions. It is also a cost effective alternative. Many times smaller agencies are not looking to overcharge for a long distance phone call, extreme admin fees, or the unpredictability of your monthly invoice. If you are looking at a large agency think about receiving a bid from a boutique agency also OR if you enjoy working with both types enter into a joint agreement where the boutique/freelancer collaborates with the large agency as a subcontractor.
Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency. She speaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site, www.KiaJarmon.com.